Max Rainer remembers being on the desolate begging plains of Texas when he saw the word “Wildorado” on a road sign. He and his bandmates swapped an “o” for an “e,” and the indie folk trio from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Wilderado, had his name.
“We just passed it and loved the word,” Rainer recalled. “It was a funny way to go because it was just a big sign in the road right in front of our faces. It’s a cool word.
Wilderado opens for Mt. Joy tonight at the Red Rocks Amphitheater and Thursday, Aug. 18 at the Mission Ballroom.
Information is a little sketchy on this Texas town Wildorado, which is close to historic Route 66. According to the 2020 census, the unincorporated town is home to about 200 people. Blink and you might miss it. Regardless of its small size, the town that gave the band its name holds a place in Rainer’s heart. (For the record, Deaf Smith County, just down the street, also makes a great band name.)
“I always try to comment on their Facebook page and stay involved in Wildorado sports, the Mustangs,” he says. “We once did a shirt that was just a mustang on it. We did the Wilderado Mustangs, with our spelling.
During its seven-year run, Wilderado – who took on the early influence of bands like Delta Spirit, Third Eye Blind and Local Natives – released a handful of EPs, a long string of singles and, in 2021, a self-titled album. The group has toured with 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Band of Horses, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, and appeared at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, BottleRock, Shaky Knees, and Innings. Recently the band toured England and Ireland with Alt-J, whose record An impressive wave had a big impact on Rainer.
Rainer, along with guitarist/vocalist Tyler Wimpee and drummer Justin Kila, is originally from Tulsa, but he says Wilderado really came together in the clubs, bars and festivals of Los Angeles. “We only really play in Tulsa on tour,” he says. “It’s an interesting approach. And we left so much that it was hard to really get out there and immerse ourselves in it.
Although he doesn’t feel a deep connection to the Tulsa music scene, that’s something Rainer would love to change. During the touring period at the height of the COVID lockdowns, he was able to listen to music from his hometown. “We started going to bars, meeting more bands, seeing more bands,” he says. “I want to be a Tulsa band. I want to be part of Tulsa art and culture.
Rainer says the songs on Wilderado’s debut album deal with the challenges of always being on the road as a touring band. He estimates that last year he stayed 100 days at home. It’s a brutal schedule – so much so that he felt a sense of relief when the pandemic forced him to stay home for more than a year.
“Now that we’re back on the road, we’re kind of like everyone else seems to be – aware that it’s nice to be off the road,” he says. “We had no idea how much we travel until we had eighteen months without travelling.”
But tours have their moments, and Wilderado is happy to be back.
“We’re very conscious of the fact that the band is growing,” Rainer says. “People connect with music, and we share that thing with strangers, which is one of my big goals.”
Wilderado, with Mt. Joy, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, Red Rocks Amphitheater, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison, $55-$79.50; Thursday, August 18, 8 p.m., Mission Ballroom, 4242 Wynkoop Street, $39.95-$75.